Surah Maryam (1/2)

Surah Maryam (1/2)


Qur'anic Exegesis

بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ

In the name of God, the Most-Gracious, the Ever-Merciful.

کٓہٰیٰعٓصٓ ۟﴿ۚ۱﴾ ذِکۡرُ رَحۡمَتِ رَبِّکَ عَبۡدَہٗ زَکَرِیَّا ۖ﴿ۚ۲﴾ اِذۡ نَادٰی رَبَّہٗ نِدَآءً خَفِیًّا ﴿۳﴾ قَالَ رَبِّ اِنِّیۡ وَہَنَ الۡعَظۡمُ مِنِّیۡ وَ اشۡتَعَلَ الرَّاۡسُ شَیۡبًا وَّ لَمۡ اَکُنۡۢ بِدُعَآئِکَ رَبِّ شَقِیًّا ﴿۴﴾ وَ اِنِّیۡ خِفۡتُ الۡمَوَالِیَ مِنۡ وَّرَآءِیۡ وَ کَانَتِ امۡرَاَتِیۡ عَاقِرًا فَہَبۡ لِیۡ مِنۡ لَّدُنۡکَ وَلِیًّا ۙ﴿۵﴾ یَّرِثُنِیۡ وَ یَرِثُ مِنۡ اٰلِ یَعۡقُوۡبَ ٭ۖ وَ اجۡعَلۡہُ رَبِّ رَضِیًّا ﴿۶﴾

This is Surah Ka Ha Ya 'Ayn Su'ad.[1] This is a mention[2] of the blessings and mercy of your Lord which He had bestowed on His servant[3] Zakariyya when he secretly called on him.[4] He pleaded:[5] "Lord! My bones have grown old and my head has glowed white with old age, and Lord! I have never remained deprived after asking from You. I fear my brethren after me[6] and my wife is barren.[7] So, grant me an heir from Yourself who is not only my heir but also of Jacob's family. And Lord! Make him a likeable person."[8] (1-6)

یٰزَکَرِیَّاۤ اِنَّا نُبَشِّرُکَ بِغُلٰمِۣ اسۡمُہٗ یَحۡیٰی ۙ لَمۡ نَجۡعَلۡ لَّہٗ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ سَمِیًّا ﴿۷﴾ قَالَ رَبِّ اَنّٰی یَکُوۡنُ لِیۡ غُلٰمٌ وَّ کَانَتِ امۡرَاَتِیۡ عَاقِرًا وَّ قَدۡ بَلَغۡتُ مِنَ الۡکِبَرِ عِتِیًّا ﴿۸﴾ قَالَ کَذٰلِکَ ۚ قَالَ رَبُّکَ ہُوَ عَلَیَّ ہَیِّنٌ وَّ قَدۡ خَلَقۡتُکَ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ وَ لَمۡ تَکُ شَیۡئًا ﴿۹﴾ قَالَ رَبِّ اجۡعَلۡ لِّیۡۤ اٰیَۃً ؕ قَالَ اٰیَتُکَ اَلَّا تُکَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلٰثَ لَیَالٍ سَوِیًّا ﴿۱۰﴾ فَخَرَجَ عَلٰی قَوۡمِہٖ مِنَ الۡمِحۡرَابِ فَاَوۡحٰۤی اِلَیۡہِمۡ اَنۡسَبِّحُوۡا بُکۡرَۃً وَّ عَشِیًّا ﴿۱۱﴾

[God said:] "O Zakariyya! We give you glad tidings of a boy who will be called Yahya.[9] We have not created anyone like him before."[10] He said: "Lord! How can a boy be born to us when my wife is barren and I too have reached the extreme of old age." It was said: "Thus shall it happen.[11] It is the declaration of your Lord: 'This is very easy for me. Before this, I have created you when you were nothing.'" Zakariyya said: "My Lord! Appoint a sign for me."[12] God said: "The sign for you is that you will not be able to speak to people for three days and nights even though you will be perfectly healthy."[13] Hence, he came out to people from his abode of worship. He then gestured to them to glorify God from dawn to dusk.[14] (7-11)

یٰیَحۡیٰی خُذِ الۡکِتٰبَ بِقُوَّۃٍ ؕ وَ اٰتَیۡنٰہُ الۡحُکۡمَ صَبِیًّا ﴿ۙ۱۲﴾ وَّ حَنَانًا مِّنۡ لَّدُنَّا وَ زَکٰوۃً ؕ وَ کَانَ تَقِیًّا ﴿ۙ۱۳﴾ وَّ بَرًّۢا بِوَالِدَیۡہِ وَ لَمۡ یَکُنۡ جَبَّارًا عَصِیًّا ﴿۱۴﴾ وَ سَلٰمٌ عَلَیۡہِ یَوۡمَ وُلِدَ وَ یَوۡمَ یَمُوۡتُ وَیَوۡمَ یُبۡعَثُ حَیًّا ﴿ ۱۵﴾

[These glad tidings materialized. Thus when that boy matured into an adult, God said:] "Yahya! Hold fast to Our Book."[15] We gave him the ability to decide [between right and wrong] in his childhoodand blessed him with warmth and compassion[16] specially from Ourself and [external and internal] purity and he was very pious[17] and also very obedient to his parents.[18] He was not rebellious and defiant. And [glad tidings of] peace were for him the day he was born and the day he will die and the day he will be raised to life.[19] (12-15)

وَ اذۡکُرۡ فِی الۡکِتٰبِ مَرۡیَمَ ۘ اِذِ انۡتَبَذَتۡ مِنۡ اَہۡلِہَا مَکَانًا شَرۡقِیًّا ﴿ۙ۱۶﴾ فَاتَّخَذَتۡ مِنۡ دُوۡنِہِمۡ حِجَابًا ۪۟ فَاَرۡسَلۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡہَا رُوۡحَنَا فَتَمَثَّلَ لَہَا بَشَرًا سَوِیًّا ﴿۱۷﴾ قَالَتۡ اِنِّیۡۤ اَعُوۡذُ بِالرَّحۡمٰنِ مِنۡکَ اِنۡ کُنۡتَ تَقِیًّا ﴿۱۸﴾ قَالَ اِنَّمَاۤ اَنَا رَسُوۡلُ رَبِّکِ ٭ۖ لِاَہَبَ لَکِ غُلٰمًا زَکِیًّا ﴿۱۹﴾ قَالَتۡ اَنّٰی یَکُوۡنُ لِیۡ غُلٰمٌ وَّ لَمۡ یَمۡسَسۡنِیۡ بَشَرٌ وَّ لَمۡ اَکُ بَغِیًّا ﴿۲۰﴾ قَالَ کَذٰلِکِ ۚ قَالَ رَبُّکِ ہُوَ عَلَیَّ ہَیِّنٌ ۚ وَ لِنَجۡعَلَہٗۤ اٰیَۃً لِّلنَّاسِ وَ رَحۡمَۃً مِّنَّا ۚ وَ کَانَ اَمۡرًا مَّقۡضِیًّا ﴿۲۱﴾

Mention [now] in this Book the name of Mary, when she had left her family and stationed herself on the eastern side[20] [of the Temple], and had kept herself in seclusion from them.[21] Then We sent to her Our angel and he appeared before her in the form of a full-grown man.[22] [When] Mary [saw him,] she said: "I seek refuge from you with the Merciful God, if you fear him." He said: "I have only been sent by your Lord [and have been sent] that I grant you a noble son." Mary said: "How can a boy be born to me; neither has a man touched me nor have I ever been of loose character?"[23] He said: "This is what will happen. Your Lord says: 'This is very easy for Me. And We will do this so that he be Ourmessenger and so that We make him a sign[24] for people and a mercy from Us.'" And this decree has been destined. (16-21)

فَحَمَلَتۡہُ فَانۡتَبَذَتۡ بِہٖ مَکَانًا قَصِیًّا ﴿۲۲﴾ فَاَجَآءَہَا الۡمَخَاضُ اِلٰی جِذۡعِ النَّخۡلَۃِ ۚ قَالَتۡ یٰلَیۡتَنِیۡ مِتُّ قَبۡلَ ہٰذَا وَ کُنۡتُ نَسۡیًا مَّنۡسِیًّا ﴿۲۳﴾

So, Mary became pregnant with that child and [leaving the Temple] went away from everyone with what she bore to a distant place.[25] Then [the time also arrived when] labour pains made her come to the trunk of the date-palm.[26] [At that time, in utter helplessness] she said: "Alas! Would that I had died before this and had been totally forgotten."[27] (22-23)

فَنَادٰىہَا مِنۡ تَحۡتِہَاۤ اَلَّا تَحۡزَنِیۡ قَدۡ جَعَلَ رَبُّکِ تَحۡتَکِ سَرِیًّا ﴿۲۴﴾ وَ ہُزِّیۡۤ اِلَیۡکِ بِجِذۡعِ النَّخۡلَۃِ تُسٰقِطۡ عَلَیۡکِ رُطَبًا جَنِیًّا ﴿۫۲۵﴾ فَکُلِیۡ وَ اشۡرَبِیۡ وَ قَرِّیۡ عَیۡنًا ۚ فَاِمَّا تَرَیِنَّ مِنَ الۡبَشَرِ اَحَدًا ۙ فَقُوۡلِیۡۤ اِنِّیۡ نَذَرۡتُ لِلرَّحۡمٰنِ صَوۡمًا فَلَنۡ اُکَلِّمَ الۡیَوۡمَ اِنۡسِیًّا ﴿ۚ۲۶﴾

At this, an angel from below Mary called her and said: "Grieve not! Your Lord has made a stream to flow from below you. And shake the trunk of the date-palm towards yourself; fresh dates will drop on you.[28] So, eat and drink and soothe your eyes [when you see the child]. Then if you see some person [who wants toask you something], gesture[29] to him: 'I have vowed to fast for the Merciful God; so, today I will not talk to any human being.'"[30] (24-26)

فَاَتَتۡ بِہٖ قَوۡمَہَا تَحۡمِلُہٗ ؕ قَالُوۡا یٰمَرۡیَمُ لَقَدۡ جِئۡتِ شَیۡئًا فَرِیًّا ﴿۲۷﴾ یٰۤاُخۡتَ ہٰرُوۡنَ مَا کَانَ اَبُوۡکِ امۡرَ اَ سَوۡءٍ وَّ مَا کَانَتۡ اُمُّکِ بَغِیًّا ﴿ۖۚ۲۸﴾

After that, she came over to her people with the child in her lap. [When they saw her,] they remarked: "Mary! You have done a very grave thing. O Sister of Aaron![31] Neither was your father an evil person nor was your mother a harlot." (27-28)

فَاَشَارَتۡ اِلَیۡہِ ؕ قَالُوۡا کَیۡفَ نُکَلِّمُ مَنۡ کَانَ فِی الۡمَہۡدِ صَبِیًّا ﴿۲۹﴾ قَالَ اِنِّیۡ عَبۡدُ اللّٰہِ ۟ؕ اٰتٰنِیَ الۡکِتٰبَ وَ جَعَلَنِیۡ نَبِیًّا ﴿ۙ۳۰﴾ وَّ جَعَلَنِیۡ مُبٰرَکًا اَیۡنَ مَا کُنۡتُ ۪ وَ اَوۡصٰنِیۡ بِالصَّلٰوۃِ وَ الزَّکٰوۃِ مَا دُمۡتُ حَیًّا ﴿۪ۖ۳۱﴾ وَّ بَرًّۢا بِوَالِدَتِیۡ ۫ وَ لَمۡ یَجۡعَلۡنِیۡ جَبَّارًا شَقِیًّا ﴿۳۲﴾ وَ السَّلٰمُ عَلَیَّ یَوۡمَ وُلِدۡتُّ وَیَوۡمَ اَمُوۡتُ وَ یَوۡمَ اُبۡعَثُ حَیًّا ﴿۳۳﴾

In reply, she gestured towards the child [that he will respond to them].[32] People said: "What should we say to him who is a mere child in the lap?" The child spoke: "I am a servant of God. He has bestowed the Book on me and made me a prophet and made me a fountainhead of blessings wherever I be. He has directed me to be diligent in the prayer and in zakah as long as I am alive and made me obedient to my parents; not someone who is rebellious and wretched.[33] And [glad tidings of] peace are on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I will be raised to life." (29-33)

ذٰلِکَ عِیۡسَی ابۡنُ مَرۡیَمَ ۚ قَوۡلَ الۡحَقِّ الَّذِیۡ فِیۡہِ یَمۡتَرُوۡنَ ﴿۳۴﴾ مَا کَانَ لِلّٰہِ اَنۡ یَّتَّخِذَ مِنۡ وَّلَدٍ ۙ سُبۡحٰنَہٗ ؕ اِذَا قَضٰۤی اَمۡرًا فَاِنَّمَا یَقُوۡلُ لَہٗ کُنۡ فَیَکُوۡنُ ﴿ؕ۳۵﴾

This was Jesus, son of Mary. The real truth about him in which these people are disputing. It is not befitting for God to make anyone His offspring. Exalted is He. When He decides upon some matter, He need only say: "Be" to it and it happens.[34] (34-35)

وَ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ رَبِّیۡ وَ رَبُّکُمۡ فَاعۡبُدُوۡہُ ؕ ہٰذَا صِرَاطٌ مُّسۡتَقِیۡمٌ ﴿۳۶﴾

And [the child said]: "Indeed, God is my Lord and yours too. So, worship Him only. This is the straight path."[35] (36)

فَاخۡتَلَفَ الۡاَحۡزَابُ مِنۡۢ بَیۡنِہِمۡ ۚ فَوَیۡلٌ لِّلَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡا مِنۡ مَّشۡہَدِ یَوۡمٍ عَظِیۡمٍ ﴿۳۷﴾ اَسۡمِعۡ بِہِمۡ وَ اَبۡصِرۡ ۙ یَوۡمَ یَاۡتُوۡنَنَا لٰکِنِ الظّٰلِمُوۡنَ الۡیَوۡمَ فِیۡ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِیۡنٍ ﴿۳۸﴾ وَ اَنۡذِرۡہُمۡ یَوۡمَ الۡحَسۡرَۃِ اِذۡ قُضِیَ الۡاَمۡرُ ۘ وَ ہُمۡ فِیۡ غَفۡلَۃٍ وَّ ہُمۡ لَا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ ﴿۳۹﴾ اِنَّا نَحۡنُ نَرِثُ الۡاَرۡضَ وَ مَنۡ عَلَیۡہَا وَ اِلَیۡنَا یُرۡجَعُوۡنَ ﴿ ۴۰﴾

[This was the teaching of Jesus.] Then various sects from among those who believed in him differed with one another. So, now for those who have denied [these truths][36] there is devastation because of a horrible day of assembly.[37] How well will they hear and see the day they shall come before Us! However, today these wrongdoers are in open error. [O Prophet!] Warn them of that day of longing[38] when the matter shall be decided. At this time, they are paying no heed and not believing. There is no doubt that ultimately We will be the inheritors of the earth and its inhabitants and all these people will be returned to Us.[39] (37-40)

وَاذۡکُرۡ فِی الۡکِتٰبِ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ ۬ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ صِدِّیۡقًا نَّبِیًّا ﴿۴۱﴾ اِذۡ قَالَ لِاَبِیۡہِ یٰۤاَبَتِ لِمَ تَعۡبُدُ مَا لَا یَسۡمَعُ وَ لَا یُبۡصِرُ وَ لَا یُغۡنِیۡ عَنۡکَ شَیۡئًا ﴿۴۲﴾ یٰۤاَبَتِ اِنِّیۡ قَدۡ جَآءَنِیۡ مِنَ الۡعِلۡمِ مَا لَمۡ یَاۡتِکَ فَاتَّبِعۡنِیۡۤ اَہۡدِکَ صِرَاطًا سَوِیًّا ﴿۴۳﴾ یٰۤاَبَتِ لَا تَعۡبُدِ الشَّیۡطٰنَ ؕ اِنَّ الشَّیۡطٰنَ کَانَ لِلرَّحۡمٰنِ عَصِیًّا ﴿۴۴﴾ یٰۤاَبَتِ اِنِّیۡۤ اَخَافُ اَنۡ یَّمَسَّکَ عَذَابٌ مِّنَ الرَّحۡمٰنِ فَتَکُوۡنَ لِلشَّیۡطٰنِ وَلِیًّا ﴿۴۵﴾

And mention Abraham in this Book.[40] Indeed, he was an upright person[41] and a prophet [of God]. Recall, when he said to his father: "Why do you worship those things that neither hear nor see and cannot be of any benefit to you? Father! In truth that knowledge has come to me which has not come to you. So, follow me, I will show you the straight path. Father! Do not worship Satan. Surely, Satan is very defiant to God, the Most Gracious. Father! [If you do not listen to me,] I fear that some torment of the Most Gracious God may seize you and you will become the companion of Satan."[42] (41-45)

قَالَ اَرَاغِبٌ اَنۡتَ عَنۡ اٰلِہَتِیۡ یٰۤـاِبۡرٰہِیۡمُ ۚ لَئِنۡ لَّمۡ تَنۡتَہِ لَاَرۡجُمَنَّکَ وَ اہۡجُرۡنِیۡ مَلِیًّا ﴿۴۶﴾

The father said: "Are you becoming averse to my deities? If you do not desist, I will certainly stone you to death.[43]So, [if you want that nothing happens to you, then] stay away from me forever." (46)

قَالَ سَلٰمٌ عَلَیۡکَ ۚ سَاَسۡتَغۡفِرُ لَکَ رَبِّیۡ ؕ اِنَّہٗ کَانَ بِیۡ حَفِیًّا ﴿۴۷﴾ وَ اَعۡتَزِلُکُمۡ وَ مَا تَدۡعُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ وَ اَدۡعُوۡا رَبِّیۡ ۫ۖ عَسٰۤی اَلَّاۤ اَکُوۡنَ بِدُعَآءِ رَبِّیۡ شَقِیًّا ﴿۴۸﴾

Abraham said: "[Okay then] peace be to you.[44] I will pray to my Lord to forgive you.[45] In reality, he is very merciful to me. [If this is what the opinion of you people is] I also forsake all of you and those also whom you call instead of God. I will only call my Lord. I am hopeful that I will not remain deprived after calling my Lord."[46] (47-48)

[1]. What is the meaning of this name? I have explained in detail my view about it while discussing verse 2 of Surah al-Baqarah.

[2]. The word ذِكْر here is in the same meaning as the imperative أُذْكُرْ ahead.

[3]. The actual word used is عَبْد. This emphasizes a trait of Zakariyya (sws). In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi what can be a greater honour for a person than God Himself calling him His servant? Who was Zakariyya? It has been mentioned while explaining verse 37 of Surah Al-i 'Imran that he wasfrom the family of the Prophet Aaron (sws) and was the husband of Mary's maternal aunt. According to the system of religious administration which was in vogue among the Israelites in those times, the family of Jacob's son Levite was specifically reserved for religious service. Then from among the Levites also at the holy of holies the task of lighting the incense and consecrating holy things was entrusted to the family of Aaron (sws). Others from among the Levites were not allowed to go into the holy of holies. They would work in open verandahs and small quarters. On the Sabbath and eid days they would present burnt offerings and help the tribe of Aaron (sws) in guarding the holy of holies. The Prophet Zakariyya (sws) was the head of the Abya in the family of Aaron (sws). Consequently, it was he who on behalf of his family would serve the place of worship.

[4]. Ie., whispered his pleadings. This is the etiquette of supplication because in it a person presents his request to God while being fully devoted to Him.

[5]. It is indicated in verses ahead that he made this request in the temple probably while he was stationed there ini'tikaf.

[6]. Ie., they are not good people as far as religious and moral conduct is concerned. Thus he feared that after he passed away they would not be able to keep intact the traditions set by him and his family which were their real distinctive feature.

[7]. Till here is the prelude to Zakariyya's (sws) request that he made ahead. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... Before Zakariyya (sws) presented his request he built up a background for it. Undoubtedly, so effective was this prelude that if it be not considered impertinence, I would say that he tried to capture the mercy of God through it. Firstly, he presented his frailty and weakness as a recommendation to God and secondly, the way he related himself to God all his life. He said that he had never been deprived after asking God. One can see that a person's request cannot be turned down by a source from where he has never been refused specially now when he has become weak and frail and his bones have gone dry. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 635)

[8]. Ie., he should have noble traits and should not have the shortcomings which had crept into the family at that time.

[9]. Zakariyya had supplicated to God at the right time, with the correct objective and with very sincere emotions. So, as soon as the supplication was uttered, God accepted it. If a person's supplication spontaneously expresses the conviction that he has only one place to go; it is the only place from where he had obtained the desired response in the past and now also he expects the same, then the mercy of God appears for him from where he cannot even imagine.

[10]. Ie., He has not blessed such a child to an old father and a barren mother. Hence, he is a child who has no precedence if the normal practice is taken into account in this regard.

[11]. It is evident from concomitant indications that this answer was given by an angel. The enunciative (khabar) of كَذَالِكَ is suppressed in the verse for the purpose of stress and emphasis.

[12]. It is evident from this that though Zakariyya thought that these glad tidings are from God yet he did have the concern somewhere in his heart that this could be a prompting from Satan amidst his own desires and he wrongly construed it from the angels. Thus, the request was made by him to re-assure himself.

[13]. Ie., this will not be because of some ailment or some error but because of being a sign from God. He will be able to exalt God and expresses His oneness but will not be able to speak to people. Verse 41 of Surah Ali-i 'Imran specifically mentions this. In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:

... Obviously, a state in which a person is able to remember God but is not able to mention Him with his tongue cannot be a product of Satan. It can only be ascribed to God. Thus Zakariyya was overcome by this state. When he came out to people from his abode of worship, he was not able to speak anything. He gestured to them to remain engaged in exalting God and in expressing His oneness. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 638)

[14]. The word مِحْرَاب here refers to the abodes of the place of worship in which people stationed themselves to worship the Almighty. It is evident from this that at the time of his supplication and receiving glad tidings he was engaged in worship in some part of the Temple. It is specified in verse 39 of Surah Ali-i 'Imran that when he received these glad tidings he was standing in prayer. Also evident from this is that people were waiting for him outside for some reason. It is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (1:22) that he had seen some dream. Thus he came out and gestured to them to exalt God and declare His oneness. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... Hidden in this gesture was that he had been entrusted with a great secret from God and that it was not yet the time to reveal it. People were to wait while remaining busy in praising God and in exalting Him and see what ultimately transpired. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 638)

[15]. Ie., the Torah. This directive was given because the satans among men and jinn have the greatest enmity for the Book of God. Thus they go all out in trying to force its adherents to leave it.

[16]. The actual word is حَنَان. It means love, liveliness and compassion. When the Almighty specially blesses a servant of His, He grants him ample share of these traits. This is because these traits signify that the heart and soul are vibrant and living. The way John was blessed with these qualities can be seen to some extent from his statements in the Gospels. There was a special tinge to his preaching. He would ask people to repent for their sins and would make those who repented take a bath to purify both their body and soul. That is why he was called John the Baptist. He is also called the foundation of Jesus (sws). Thus he would proclaim his arrival by asking them to repent because the kingdom of God is near, (John, 1:23).

[17]. Jesus had said: "Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist," (Matthew, 11:11). The extent of his piety and devoutness are evident from this statement. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

... He led an ascetic life all through. He publicly asked people to repent in such a loud tone that its reverberations could be heard all around. When he delivered a speech in the Temple people's hearts would shake and shudder. He gave everything that he had to this world but took nothing from it. He would live on wild honey and locusts and covered his body with an apparel of coarse camel hair and the body for which he never made a shelter was sacrificed by him for the cause of God's Book. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 639)

This incident happened when he was imprisoned for criticizing the deviant practices of Herod Antipas, the Jewish ruler in his times.John was in jail when Herod on the occasion of his birthday witnessed the dance of Herodias' daughter. Herodias was the wife of Herod's brotherPhilip whom Herod had unlawfully taken possession of. Herod was so impressed by the dance that he told her that he would grant any wish she made.The girl asked her lecherous mother at which she advised her to ask for John's head. This was because Herodias considered the preaching of John (sws) a potential danger for women like her. Though Herod regarded John (sws) to be a holy person and thereby respected him but he could not reject the wish of his beloved's daughter. He had John beheaded and presented his severed head placed in a platter to the dancing girl. (See: Matthew, 14:3-12; Mark, 6:17-29; Luke, 3: 19-20)

Here it needs to be kept in consideration that the reason for which John (sws) had adopted a very humble and simple life as referred to earlier was that he and Jesus (sws) were the last messengers of God who had come to the Israelites to finally deliver the truth to the Israelites in a conclusive manner before God's promise of retribution was destined to be fulfilled for them. How could they make a home for themselves while living in a city that was facing floods and how could they have been happy in the orchard that was about to wither away? If people who knock at the door of each person to warn them of the imminent storm start to build their own houses and cultivate their own lands, then they become guilty of shirking their responsibility. Thus both of them preferred celibacy, lived on bare minimum sustenance, wore simple clothes, regarded the sky to be their roof and the earth to be their floor and left the world in this state.

[18]. Ie., he was very obedient in spite of the fact that from birth to education and instruction he was not dependent on his parents. He passed through all these stages under the direct surveillance of the Almighty.

[19]. This is a reference to the greetings of the angels with which they will welcome him in every phase of life.

[20]. The place of i'tikaf and worship was on the eastern side of the Temple.

[21]. It is evident from this that she apparently stationed herself in i'tikaf.

[22]. The purpose of this probably was to test Mary (sws). It is evident from succeeding verses that she was successful in this test and at that delicate moment displayed the same character which was expected from a lady of her calibre and repute.

[23]. These words are only appropriate to be uttered by a chaste virgin lady. Hence they are explicit testimony to the fact that what is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke as her being married to a person named Joseph is totally incorrect.

[24]. Ie., a sign of God's great power observing which no one can have any doubt that one day He will similarly be able to recreate all creatures. It is for this very reason that Jesus (sws) has been called عِلْمٌ لِّلسَّاعَةِ (sign of the Judgement Day) in verse 61 of Surah al-Zukhruf.

[25]. It is evident from the Gospels that this place was Bethlehem. In her situation, the only option left was to go far away from the notice of people to secure herself from any cursing and accusation at least in her period of pregnancy. She belonged to the holiest family of Aaron's tribe and had been dedicated to serve the Temple.

[26]. The actual word is النَّخْلَة. It perhaps was a date-palm outside the city. Whether she accidentally came towards it or was divinely bidden to, both are possible. However, this much is certain that the tree was pre-determined because the word النَّخْلَة is appended by alif lam.

[27]. The great agony and anguish with which Mary (sws) was inflicted at that time can be seen from these words. The humiliation which is in store for a virgin giving birth is aptly reflected in this sentence.

[28]. The implication is that that was the arrangement made for her there. When the Almighty assigns some mission of His to a person, His mercy envelops that person in this way. Thus the directive of shaking the palm tree was merely an excuse for the manifestation of God's mercy. Otherwise, obviously Mary (sws) could not have the power to shake the date palm tree in the age in which it bears fruit.

[29]. The actual word is: قُوْلِي. Just as this word is used in the Arabic language to utter something from the tongue, it also means to make a gesture.

[30]. The implication is that when she is fasting and someone tries to communicate with her, this is the manner she should put off that person. It is evident from this that in the shari'ah of the Jews, the fast of silence could be kept in also the situation in which Mary (sws) was. Their scriptures also corroborate it.

[31]. Mary (sws) belonged to the Banu Harun (the tribe of Aaron). In ancient tribal languages, it is common to address someone by ascribing him or her to the forefather of that clan. For example, in the Arabic language a person belong to the Muḍar tribe would be addressed as: يا أخا مضر. Similar is the case with other tribes. In my opinion, here too this meaning is implied because at the time of an accusation it is very appropriate to say: O woman of a holy tribe! Your father is a noble person and your mother is chaste. What a pity that you have still done such a despicable thing.

[32]. She probably had been told that she will remain silent while the infant will respond to all the accusations made against her and that he will bear witness to her chastity and to his own noble countenance. She should rest assured that she will not be needed to say anything. God will make someone talk in her favour who will silence everyone. If God has put her in an extra-ordinary trial He will carry her through it with full success and honour and this is not at all difficult for Him.

[33]. These words of Jesus (sws) are very meaningful. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has explained them. He writes:

The first thing he said was: إِنِّي عَبْدُاللهِ (I am God's servant). In other words, what he intended to say was that no one should be misled by the miraculous nature of his birth into thinking that he is some super-human. He is but God's servant. Here the Qur'an has expressed the real meaning of his words ابن اللّه. In Hebrew, the word ابن occurs for both "servant" and "son." The context determines in which meaning it has been used. In the presence of the clear teachings of Jesus (sws), there was no ambiguity in the interpretation of this word. However, it was Paul who made it a means of mischief and invented the convoluted concept of the trinity. I have tried to dispel this myth in the light of the Gospels in the explanations of Surah Al-i 'Imran and Suah al-Ma'idah.

The second thing that he said was that God had blessed him with a divine book and with prophethood and wherever he was he would remain an embodiment of goodness for people. As fas the shari'ah was concerned, Jesus (sws) followed and practiced the shari'ah brought by Moses (sws), and also preached and revived it. However, he added the portion of wisdom to it. We find these counsels and sermons on wisdom in the Gospels in scattered form. He would shed these pearls from his mouth and light up his surroundings; any heart which had the slightest potential of life in it would spring to verve and vivacity by his words.

The third thing that he said was that he had been directed to pray and pay the zakah all his life. It is primarily these two directives which are the foundation of all religions and shari'ah. For this reason, they are mentioned the foremost in all divine religions. Their apparent forms have remained different in different religions but each of their forms has preserved in it the essence of God's worship and sympathy for His creatures. The prayer joins a person to his Lord in the true sense and the zakah connects him to his brethren on the right footing. It is on adherence to these two things that adherence to the whole religion depends. If a person tries to raze these two pillars, he will raze the whole edifice of religion even though he may brag of following religion.

The fourth thing that he said was that God had made him obedient to his mother and not rebellious and defiant to her. In other words, even though he had been born in a very special manner and had also been blessed with special favours from his Lord, he was still a son of his mother and an obedient one too. That he had been blessed with special favours of God must was not to be construed by anyone as that he was not a human being. At the same time, he explained parents the fact that a person who was not obedient to his was callous and cruel. These statements of Jesus (sws) refute certain narratives in the Gospel which apparently show that he did not even have the necessary respect for his mother. It seems that when the claim of divinity was attached to Jesus (sws) such narratives were inserted in the Gospels to corroborate it. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 648)

[34]. The implication is that God is not dependent on anyone to implement any of His plans and projects and He does not need children for this purpose. For every task, He only needs to utter the word كُنْ. Concealed in this fact is that Jesus (sws) is also a product of this word. It certainly does not mean that if he was born in a different way he is a physical manifestation of God or has any element of divinity in him.

This whole paragraph is a parenthetical sentence by God inserted in between the statements of Jesus (sws). In it, the addresses are informed of the reality of Jesus (sws) which he himself had uttered right after his birth.

[35]. This is part of the conversation cited before the parenthetical sentence. The words "my father" and "your father" mentioned in the Gospels at various places have been corrected here by the Qur'an. It is evident that this is what Jesus (sws) had actually said. However, since in Hebrew the words اب and ابن are equally used for "father" and "son" as well as for "God" and "servant" respectively, when the Christians invented the belief of the divinity of Jesus (sws) they used these words having common meanings to their advantage.

[36]. Among the followers of Jesus (sws), Simon Peter knew these facts very well; hence this is an allusion to the followers of Saint Paul who themselves are divided into many sects. The most prominent among them are Catholics and Protestants.

[37]. This is because on that day all truths will become evident and Jesus (sws) himself will stand to testify against them. In Surah al-Ma'idah, the Qur'an has explained the words: مَشْهَدِ يُوْمٍ عَظِيْمٍ.

[38]. The day of assembling before God has been called the day of longing because on that day everyone will longingly wish to be returned to the world so that they could lead a life of faith and righteous deeds and then return.

[39]. Ie., they will be returned to none other than God. Hence, they should not expect that there will be anyone there to help them or they will be able to have someone intercede for them without God's permission.

[40]. Here the teachings of other messengers of God are presented to corroborate what Jesus (sws) presented. Abraham (sws) is taken up the foremost because he is the leader of all messengers which came in the era when his progeny had been selected to preach and communicate the truth.

[41]. The actual word is: صِدِّيْق. This trait of Abraham (sws) has been highlighted here in order to caution both the Jews and Christians that the person who they regard to be their forefather was not someone like them who was unfaithful to God and broke his promise to Him; on the contrary, he was upright, truthful and fully faithful to God. Hence, if they want to be ascribed to him and be his heirs, then they have only one path: they must also inculcate these traits in themselves.

[42]. This is a summary of Abraham's conversations with his father Adhar after he had been chosen as a messenger. The repetition of the word يَآبَتِ shows how compassionately and affectionately he spoke to his father. In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, evident from every sentence is the worry and love an obedient son should have for his father who has gone astray. He has directed the attention of his father to a few facts in this conversation. He writes:

The very first thing he has questioned is the logic of worshipping idols carved with their own hands? Making someone a deity is not a matter of jest and entertainment. It relates to the biggest need of human beings. They believe in God and worship Him because He listens to their pleadings, delivers them from sorrows and helps them in every difficulty. So, what use are these self-carved idols they worship to them, which neither see nor hear nor are of any benefit to them? This, in other words, is a proof of polytheism being an absolute falsehood because its apparent form whatever its inner one clearly shows that it is blatant foolishness and has no relation to intellect and human nature.

The second thing he has said is that determining God's partners is not a matter of conjecture. A person believes in one God because his nature, intellect, the world inside him and the one around him bear witness to Him. Every person who is upright is compelled to believe in Him but what is the compulsion in believing in His partners without any reason? What can be relied upon in this matter is العلم ie. true knowledge which comes from God through divine revelation. Abraham (sws) called upon his father to not follow mere conjecture in such an important matter; rather he should follow him. He is presenting true knowledge to him which he has received from God. From this knowledge guidance will be obtained for the straight path that takes people to God. The expression "straight path" means that this path will make a person independent of any means and take him directly to God. In other words, this path is the path of monotheism.

The third thing that he has explained is that as is evident from the account of Adam and Satan the greatest malice and enmity the latter has is for the straight path of monotheism. He has sworn that he will expend all his force to lead away the progeny of Adam from this straight path and make them entangled in polytheism. If a person faithfully obeys such a rebel of God, then this is like worshipping the rebel and unfortunate are those who leave God and worship Satan.

The fourth thing which he has explained is that till then they had an excuse that God's guidance had not reached them but now that it has reached them, they do not have any excuse. Hence he fears that they will now be seized by God and by becoming companions of Satan reach the fate which is destined for his friends. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 658)

[43]. In tribal societies, fathers had this kind of unlimited authority over their sons and masters over their slaves. Just as masters could kill their slaves for a crime, in a similar way fathers could give any punishment to their sons and daugthers.

[44]. At the time of his migration and acquittal, this is a very elegant way of expressing his farewell salutations.

[45]. In spite of such a callous attitude from his father, this promise by Abraham (sws) shows how soft, sympathetic and loving he was. It is evident from other instances in the Qur'an that he kept making this prayer until the Almighty stopped him.

[46]. Besides the affection found in this declaration of acquittal by Abraham (sws), it also shows his immense honour and regard for the truth. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

The emphasis, self-confidence and self-sufficience seen in this declaration of acquittal is evident from every word. In the first place, Abraham (sws) used the plural form وَ أَعْتَزِلُكُمْ which shows that he not only proclaimed acquittal from his father but also from all his companions, associates and members of the family. With it, by uttering the words وَمَا تَدْعُوْنَ مِنْ دُوْنِ الله (and those also whom you call instead of God) he included all their deities in the declaration. It was as if he rejected them as well. Then he did not merely give a negative statement. He followed it up with a positive one: وَ أَدْعُوْا رَبِّي (I will only call my Lord) implying that he did not recognize any other deity. At the end, he expressed his unshakable trust in the Almighty by saying that he had never been deprived after calling his Lord and it was hoped that He would help and guide him in that trial as well. On the one hand, is this softness and the other this sternness. It is in fact this amalgam of soft and stern attitude which distinguishes a preacher of truth from others. Unless a person is soft as wax and hard as a rock, he cannot serve the cause of truth in any way. (Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur'an, vol. 4, 660)

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